Grants & Prizes Doctoral Dissertation Grants

Background

Since 2002, TIRF has supported students completing their doctoral research on topics related to the foundation’s priorities. Each year, applicants who have been advanced to candidacy in legitimate PhD or EdD programs are invited to submit proposals for Doctoral Dissertation Grants (DDGs). (By “advanced to candidacy” we mean [a] having completed all required course work, if any, and [b] having had a research plan approved by the candidate’s university committee.) Proposals are reviewed by a TIRF committee of established international researchers. DDGs are provided in the amount of up to US $5,000 per awardee.

Use the tabs above to learn more about the DDG program.

2023 Competition

2023 DDG Competition Now Open

The 2023 Doctoral Dissertation Grants competition is now open. The application deadline is Wednesday, May 17, 2023 at 11:59pm Pacific Time (United States & Canada). Award decisions are expected to be made by mid-September 2023 and announced on our website and via our newsletter. The information below should be utilized by individuals who are interested in learning about our DDG competition.

  • Download the 2023 DDG call for proposals.
  • Download the 2023 DDG application form.
  • View the resource videos to help complete the application form (use “Walk-Through Video” tab above).
  • Visit our DDG frequently-asked-questions page (use “FAQs” tab above).
  • Submit your proposal/letter of support via our Application Submission Area.

We would like to recognize the wonderful support of Cambridge Assessment English and the British Council. The efforts of these two organizations help to make possible this year’s DDG competition.

Recipients
Awardee-Alannah_Fitzgerald
Alannah Fitzgerald

Doctoral Institution

Concordia University

Dissertation Title

A New Paradigm for Open Data-driven Language Learning Systems Design in Higher Education

TIRF Research Topic Investigated

Digital Technology in Language Education
Awardee-Ali_Fuad_Selvi
Ali Fuad Selvi

Doctoral Institution

University of Maryland

Dissertation Title

A Quest to Prepare English Language Teachers in Diverse Teaching Settings

TIRF Research Topic Investigated

Language Teacher Education
Awardee-Alisha_Biler
Alisha Biler

Doctoral Institution

University of South Carolina

Dissertation Title

The Role of Content Word Overlap in Second Language Reading

TIRF Research Topic Investigated

Language Assessment
AmandaEarl_Photo-300x284
Amanda Earl

Doctoral Institution

Teachers College, Columbia University

Dissertation Title

Understanding Roles and Meanings of an Intercultural Higher Education for Rural Youth and Communities in Mexico

TIRF Research Topic Investigated

Language Endangerment and Revitalization
AmyKim-200x200
Amy Kim

Doctoral Institution

Georgetown University

Dissertation Title

Rethinking Post-Entry Language Assessment Policies in U.S. Higher Education: A Socially Responsible Approach

TIRF Research Topic Investigated

Language Planning & Policy
Awardee-Andrea_Revesz
Andrea Revesz

Doctoral Institution

Teachers College, Columbia University

Dissertation Title

Focus on Form in Task-based Language Teaching: Recasts, Task Complexity, and L2 Learning

TIRF Research Topic Investigated

Grammar
Awardee-Angelica_Galante
Angelica Galante

Doctoral Institution

University of Toronto

Dissertation Title

Plurilingual or Monolingual? A Mixed Methods Study Investigating Plurilingual Instruction in an EAP Program at a Canadian University

TIRF Research Topic Investigated

Plurilingualism in Business, Industry, the Professions, and Educational Contexts
Awardee-Angélica Montoya-Ávila
Angélica Montoya-Ávila

Doctoral Institution

University of Maryland - College Park

Dissertation Title

Newcomer High Schoolers’ Writing Development through Participatory Action Research

TIRF Research Topic Investigated

Teaching and Assessing English | Plurilingualism in Business, Industry, the Professions, and Educational Contexts
Awardee-Antonella_Valeo
Antonella Valeo

Doctoral Institution

University of Toronto

Dissertation Title

The Integration of Language and Content: Form-focused Instruction in a Content-based Language Program

TIRF Research Topic Investigated

Grammar
Awardee-Aymen_Elsheikh
Aymen Elsheikh

Doctoral Institution

Indiana University

Dissertation Title

A Case Study of Sudanese EFL Student Teachers’ Knowledge and Identity Construction

TIRF Research Topic Investigated

Language Teacher Education
AyşenurSağdıç_Photo-1-200x300
Ayşenur Sağdıç

Doctoral Institution

Georgetown University

Dissertation Title

Learning by Simulating: Second Language Pragmatic Development in a Technology-Mediated Task-Based Simulation with Feedback

TIRF Research Topic Investigated

Digital Technology in Language Education
Awardee-Aziz_Khan
Aziz Khan

Doctoral Institution

University of Auckland, New Zealand

Dissertation Title

A Narrative Ethnography of Teachers’ Language Perceptions, Preferences, and Practices in a Multilingual Context, and its Implications for Language-in-Education Policy and Planning

TIRF Research Topic Investigated

Language Planning & Policy
Awardee-Bai_Ying
Bai Ying

Doctoral Institution

University of Melbourne

Dissertation Title

Test-takers’ Views of the College English Test in China and their Effect on Test Performance: A Mixed Methods Study

TIRF Research Topic Investigated

Language Assessment
Awardee-Bal_Krishna_Sharma
Bal Krishna Sharma

Doctoral Institution

University of Hawai‘i at Manoa

Dissertation Title

The Commodification and Representation of Nepal in International Tourism

TIRF Research Topic Investigated

Plurilingualism in Business, Industry, the Professions, and Educational Contexts
Awardee-Bedrettin_Yazan
Bedrettin Yazan

Doctoral Institution

University of Maryland, College Park

Dissertation Title

How ESOL Teacher Candidates Construct their Teacher Identities: A Case Study of an MATESOL Program

TIRF Research Topic Investigated

Language Teacher Education

Honorable Mentionees

Andrew Scott

Doctoral Institution

Lancaster University

Dissertation Title

The Pedagogic Discourse of Teacher-led Responses to Student Writing: An Investigation into the Knowledge, Language and Pedagogy of Teacher Feedback Practices in Academic English Writing Classrooms for International Students

TIRF Research Topic Investigated

Language Teacher Education
Apichat Khamboonruang

Doctoral Institution

University of Melbourne

Dissertation Title

Development and Validation of a Diagnostic Rating Scale for an EFL University Writing Classroom

TIRF Research Topic Investigated

Language Assessment
Carmen Durham

Doctoral Institution

University of Maryland, College Park

Dissertation Title

Bridging and Expanding Language Through Digital Tools: Pre-Service Teachers Learning About Technology

TIRF Research Topic Investigated

Language Teacher Education
Curtis Green-Eneix

Doctoral Institution

Michigan State University

Dissertation Title

Intersectional Identities and Ideologies in Becoming a Language Teacher in a “Classless Society"

TIRF Research Topic Investigated

Content-Based Instruction
Hanna Hong

Doctoral Institution

University of Washington

Dissertation Title

General Education Classroom Teachers’ Understanding and Instruction for Multilingual Learners: A Meso-Level Perspective

TIRF Research Topic Investigated

Content-Based Instruction
Jungwan Yoon

Doctoral Institution

Pennsylvania State University

Dissertation Title

Writing Beyond the Obvious: The Effects of Tasks and Source Texts on Student Writing in ESL Freshman Composition

TIRF Research Topic Investigated

Language Teacher Education
Khanh Bui

Doctoral Institution

University of Georgia

Dissertation Title

“Key words are not enough”: Multiple Representations to Foster English Learners’ Thinking and Reasoning to Solve Word Problems

TIRF Research Topic Investigated

Content-based Instruction
Nga Nguyen

Doctoral Institution

Edith Cowan University

Dissertation Title

An Evaluation Study of an English for Academic Purposes Program in a Vietnamese University

TIRF Research Topic Investigated

Language Planning & Policy
Pakize Uludag

Doctoral Institution

Concordia University

Dissertation Title

Developing and Validating a Rubric for Assessing the Construct of Integration in L2 Integrated Writing Tasks

TIRF Research Topic Investigated

Language Assessment
Rachel Bowden

Doctoral Institution

University of Southampton

Dissertation Title

Language Use and Learning in a Lower-secondary Mathematics Class in Rwanda

TIRF Research Topic Investigated

English as a Medium of Instruction
Raed Alzahrani

Doctoral Institution

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Dissertation Title

Investigating the Effect of Materials Motivational Design on Saudi University Students’ Motivation and L2 Writing Performance: An Experimental Mixed-Method Design Using Keller’s ARCS Model

TIRF Research Topic Investigated

Language Teacher Education
Shahid Abrar-ul-Hassan

Doctoral Institution

University of British Columbia

Dissertation Title

English for Academic Purposes in Canada: Practitioners’ Construction of Assessment Literacy and Practices

TIRF Research Topic Investigated

Language Assessment
Sin Yu Cherry Chan

Doctoral Institution

Chinese University of Hong Kong

Dissertation Title

Second Language Identities and Study Abroad: Multiple Case Studies of Hong Kong English Teacher Education Majors in a Short-term Study Abroad Program in the UK

TIRF Research Topic Investigated

Language Teacher Education
Susie Kim

Doctoral Institution

Michigan State University

Dissertation Title

Assessing Grammatical Features in Second Language Writing: A Corpus-based Analysis of CEFR Features across Score Levels

TIRF Research Topic Investigated

Language Assessment
Thanh Luan Nguyen

Doctoral Institution

University of Newcastle, Australia

Dissertation Title

Investigating Students’ Perceptions of Vietnamese Tertiary English Education

TIRF Research Topic Investigated

Language Teacher Education
Russell N. Campbell Award

Each year the highest rated Doctoral Dissertation Grant proposal is awarded in the name of the late Russell N. Campbell. Dr. Campbell, a Past President of TESOL, was one of the founding members of the Foundation.

Eligibility

The following points are only an overview of eligibility to apply for a DDG. Successful applicants will read the call for proposals and carefully follow the instructions.

Applicants must

  • be enrolled in a legitimate doctoral program;
  • be advanced to candidacy and have had a research plan approved by a faculty committee at their university;
  • write a proposal which is clearly related to one or more of TIRF’s Research Topics;
  • follow specific instructions located in the call for proposals; and
  • have their research supervisor submit an official letter of support attesting to the applicant’s readiness to complete the doctoral dissertation.

Please note that DDG applicants do not need to be U.S. citizens.

Research Topics

TIRF’s current research topics are located on its website. Click here to learn more. TIRF reserves the right to change its research topics at any time.

Constraints

Possible Constraints on Awards

Please note that the ability for TIRF to make payments for a grant, prize, or other purpose may be restricted. Although TIRF is an independent foundation, it remains subject to the laws governing the United States of America (where TIRF is registered), including governmental sanctions that are in force and may limit doing business with individuals or organizations in/from certain countries.

FAQs

This frequently-asked-questions (FAQ) section of our website is designed to help answer some of the most common questions we receive about the DDG competition. Click the links below for information related to the section headings.

I have read the application information and it seems to me that TIRF’s DDGs are offered to students who are about to begin their doctoral research. In my case, I have done the data collection, and I am now working on analyzing my data. Am I too far along in my dissertation process to apply?

  • DDG applicants must be “advanced to candidacy.” We realize that “advanced to candidacy” can mean different things at different institutions. We are looking for applicants who are finished with all of their coursework and exams and have advanced to the dissertation stage. Your doctoral supervisor should attest to this fact in his/her letter of support for your application. You may be at the data collection phase, the data analysis phase, or you may be in the initial stages of writing up your results. If you have “advanced to candidacy” at your institution and have not yet defended your dissertation and been granted your degree, you are eligible to apply. Of course, if you were defending your dissertation in the next month, then you would be too far along in the process to apply for TIRF DDG monies.

My dissertation topic is how pre-service teachers help English language learners to learn other subjects in school (that is, not just English). The primary goals of the research include both language and non-language learning. Since my study focuses not only on language learning, I would like to know if my study might be fundable.

  • As is the case with any inquiry like this one, there’s no way that we can tell you with absolute certainty that you would be eligible to apply. Use your best judgment given what was written just above. We cannot tell you with certainty whether your study could be considered for funding. In your proposal, you can make a case as to why your study connects to one or more of TIRF’s research priorities. Our external reviewers will ultimately decide whether your study is eligible for funding.

Is it possible to apply for the dissertation grant if you hope to become a PhD candidate after the submission deadline and your advisor writes a letter to the effect?

  • If your research supervisor attests (in writing) to the fact that you will be advanced to candidacy before the DDG adjudication results are announced, we will consider the proposal. However, if for some reason you are not advanced to candidacy, you would not be eligible to receive a TIRF DDG even if your proposal had been highly rated by TIRF’s reviewers. You may apply, but unless your topic is directly related to one of TIRF’s research priorities, your proposal is not likely to be rated very highly.

I am a masters-level student completing my degree in TESOL. Can I apply for the grant?

  • No, you are ineligible to apply. DDGs are designed for doctoral-level students who are advanced to candidacy.

If my dissertation concerns a language or languages other than English, am I eligible to apply?

  • TIRF will consider proposals that propose research on other languages. However, because TIRF’s focus is on English language education, the study proposed would need to explicitly address how the research might have an impact on English, as well as on the language being researched (and on other languages). Applicants will need to do an excellent job of making these connections, in order to be rated highly by TIRF’s external reviewers and receive an award.

I’m currently a fourth-year doctoral student at my university and am planning to take my preliminary examination this fall. Although I haven’t taken the exam yet, I have written a proposal for my pilot study and will conduct the study in April and May of next year. Am I eligible to apply for a Doctoral Dissertation Grant?

  • No. DDG applicants must be “advanced to candidacy.” This term can mean different things at different institutions. DDG applicants should be finished with all of their coursework and exams and be at the dissertation stage. Your doctoral supervisor should attest to this fact in his/her letter of support for your application.

My study is about a particular research priority, or maybe even two priorities. Can you please tell me where my study fits with TIRF’s research priorities?

  • Unfortunately, we cannot tell you with certainty which research priority (or priorities) you should apply under. Part of the application process is designed for applicants to make connections between their studies and TIRF’s research priorities. It is up to you to make the connections clear and explicit.

I will be defending my dissertation to my faculty committee two weeks after the deadline for submitting the DDG proposal. Can I still apply for a DDG?

  • No, in this case, you are ineligible to apply. Our DDG program is designed to grant funding to individuals who need money to help complete the final year of their studies.

Am I eligible to apply for a TIRF DDG if I am completing my doctorate online?

  • Yes, you are eligible to apply for a TIRF DDG if you are completing an online doctorate. An individual may apply for a grant regardless of whether his/her program is completed online or face-to-face, so long as the program itself is bonafide and other DDG eligibility criteria are satisfied.

Are part-time doctoral students eligible to apply for a TIRF DDG?

  • As long as you are enrolled in a legitimate doctoral program and are advanced to candidacy and you have the support of your doctoral supervisor, your proposal can be considered by TIRF.

How far along in my doctoral process is considered “too far along” when considering whether to apply for a TIRF DDG?

  • If you have finished your data collection and data analysis and are in the final stages of writing your dissertation, you are likely ineligible to apply.

I have collected my data and started writing my thesis. Does this mean that I could only apply for funding for the remaining part of my project, or can I also include items in my budget for which I have already paid expenses?

  • TIRF will not reimburse applicants for expenses incurred prior to the submission of their proposals. Therefore, you should only include in your budget allowable items that relate to the remaining part of your project.

Would it be acceptable to add childcare costs as necessary to my research?

  • No, childcare costs are not an allowable budget item.

I understand that the amount for conference expenses is limited to $2,000. Does it include accommodation cost for attending conferences?

  • Yes, the $2,000 limit includes transportation and accommodations. In fact, it includes any costs related to expenses for attending and presenting at conferences, such as conference registration fees, accommodations, and transportation.

Is it possible to use the grant for travel already undertaken for data collection?

  • No, you may not include expenses for data collection, including travel, as an expense in your budget if those expenses have been incurred prior to the time of your application for a TIRF DDG.

What if I need more than 40% of the award at the beginning of my study, in order to get started with my data collection?

  • The DDG payment schedule consists of three payments, as determined by our Research Advisory Committee. Unfortunately, we cannot make any changes to the payment schedule. We would ask for you to keep in mind that TIRF DDGs are designed to help assist with some of the costs to complete your research. The grants are not designed to cover all of the costs involved with your research or your personal expenses.

Can I have my award money sent to a friend or family member instead?

  • Yes, we can work with you to find creative payment solutions. In the past, we have sent checks directly to family and friends at the request of our grantees. We typically have done so only in situations when a grantee is living outside the U.S, and has a family member or friend who can help the funds reach the grantee’s bank account. We can also send a check for direct deposit to an awardee’s bank.

Are the actual funds for awards processed through a university account or through some other means?

  • We are quite flexible when it comes to finding creative solutions to deliver DDG awardees’ funds. In the U.S., we typically send checks directly to the grantee. We do not have restricting policies that prevent us from paying awardees directly. We realize in some cases that you may need to work within your university’s policies. If you are awarded a TIRF DDG, we will be happy to work with you and your university to follow whatever policies we must.

What happens if I am not completely finished with my dissertation or have not successfully defended my dissertation by the deadline set for the final reports (typically two years after award date)? Can I get an extension?

  • We expect that our grantees will communicate regularly with us about the status of the dissertation process. While we do understand that unexpected events may surface, we do hope that you can finish your study in two years from the time the award was made. Funds allocated to doctoral research projects may not be available after the deadline if those projects are not yet complete.

What is the total amount of funding TIRF will award in one year of its DDG competition?

  • The total amount of funding we have varies from year-to-year. TIRF DDGs are awarded for up to $5,000, but in many instances the amount of the award is less than what was requested in the proposal. It is common for DDGs to range from $1,000 to $4,000. For some years, we have been able to support up to 16 applicants at various levels of funding.

How do I submit my application?

  • DDG applications can be uploaded by visiting our Application Submission Area. From the drop-down menu there, you will need to select the option which reads “Doctoral Dissertation Grant Applications.” After making this selection, another drop-down menu will appear with a list of our research priorities. Choose the option from the list that matches the TIRF research priority under which you are applying. Then, hit “Browse” to find your application in your computer’s files, select it, and be sure to click “Add Submission.” Please also ensure that your first and last names are in the name of the file you upload and submit.

I made revisions to my application, can I resubmit it?

  • No. We can only accept an applicant’s first upload. Once a person has submitted his/her application, no changes can be made to his/her file. Please be sure to proofread your application carefully and make sure it is both correct and complete before you upload it.

What is the process like for communicating amendments to my dissertation plan, if my application is approved?

  • Should your study be selected for a DDG award, you would need to notify TIRF immediately by email about any changes to your study. You will also need to note any changes in your acceptance letter.

Do I need to submit two separate applications to be eligible for the TIRF-Cambridge DDG and the TIRF-British Council DDG, or only one application?

  • Only one application needs to be submitted. On the first page of the application form you will submit, there is a place for you to indicate whether you are eligible for a TIRF-British Council award.

I will be collecting data in a remote area and won’t have email access at the time proposals are due. Can I submit my proposal just a few days later?

  • No. We encourage you to submit your application ahead of the deadline. You may submit your application as soon as the call for proposals is available.

What counts as evidence of “scholarly and professional promise”?

  • Evidence of “scholarly and professional promise” should be noted in your CV in the form of publications, conference presentations, and/or experience in the field.

English is not my native language. What if there are problems in my writing style? Can nonnative writers be judged by different criteria?

  • No. We expect all individuals to submit high-quality applications. If you have concerns about your writing, you may wish to hire someone to help you edit your prose. You should also make certain to ask your dissertation supervisor to read your application to give you feedback. In fact, on the first page of the DDG application form, we ask applicants to indicate that their supervisors have provided feedback on their proposals.

Can my dissertation be written in a language other than English?

  • Yes, DDG applicants’ dissertations may be written in languages other than English. However, DDG proposals, reports to TIRF, and all communications with TIRF must be written in English.

What if I miss the deadline by a few hours, or even a few minutes? Sometimes the power goes out here and I might not be able to get internet access to submit my proposal.

  • If you live and work in an area where access to power and the Internet is variable, we strongly encourage you to submit your application early The DDG CFP is posted to our website in December of the prior calendar year. (For example, the 2015 DDG CFP is posted to TIRF’s website in December 2014.) Therefore, planning ahead will help to ensure that you can avoid any issues with submitting your application.

May I co-apply for a TIRF DDG with one or more of my colleagues?

  • No. DDG applications must be submitted individually.

My proposal has just a single extra page because I had so much literature to review. Is that OK?

  • No. As stated in the DDG Call For Proposals, the literature review in your proposal should be no longer than two pages. Please select the most salient references from your work, and include only those with your application. If you exceed the page limit, you will unfortunately be disqualified.

Are appendices or footnotes allowed in DDG applications?

  • No. Appendices and footnotes are not allowed in DDG applications.

What if a proposal is about two research priorities? Mine is about assessment but also about language policy and planning.

  • You are welcome to apply under more than one research priority. To do so, you should list on the cover page of your application which priorities you are applying under. In your application, you will want to make explicit connections between the research priorities and the contents of your study.

When are supervisor letters due?

  • The supervisor letters are due on the same day the applications are due.

How does my supervisor submit his/her letter of support?

  • Supervisor letters can be uploaded by visiting our Application Submission Area. From the drop-down menu there, supervisors need to select the option which reads “Supervisor Letter of Support for DDG Applicants.” Make sure to select the file from your system and then press “Add Submission.” Supervisors should use the following naming convention when uploading their files “DDG_SupervisorLetter_First&LastNameOfApplicant.”

What will happen to my proposal if my supervisor’s letter of recommendation doesn’t arrive in time?

  • To be considered for funding, your application file must be complete by the deadline. Your supervisor’s letter is part of your application file. If your file is not complete by the deadline, for whatever reason, we cannot consider your application for funding. Make certain to contact your supervisor early and in a timely manner.

How will I know what to improve if I don’t get feedback from the reviewers?

  • You need to talk with the supervisor of your dissertation and the faculty members at your own university about improving your proposal. Remember, your research supervisor needs to read your proposal before you submit it.
Walk-Through Video

Click here to view the video on TIRF’s website.

Click here to view the video on YouTube.

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